Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass (or blue grass), smooth meadow-grass, or common meadow-grass, is a perennial species of grass native to practically all of Europe, North Asia and the mountains of Algeria and Morocco. It is a common and incredibly popular lawn grass in North America with the species being spread over all of the cool, humid parts of the United States, despite the fact that it is not native to North America. The Spanish Empire brought the seeds of Kentucky bluegrass to the New World in mixtures with other grasses.[1] In its native range, Poa pratensis forms a valuable pasture plant, characteristic of well-drained, fertile soil. It is also used for making lawns in parks and gardens and has established itself as a common invasive weed across cool moist temperate climates like the Pacific Northwest and the Northeastern United States. When found on native grasslands in Canada, for example, it is considered an unwelcome exotic plant, and is indicative of a disturbed and degraded landscape.[2][3]

Poa pratensis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Genus: Poa
P. pratensis
Binomial name
Poa pratensis



Poa pratensis was one of the many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his landmark work Species Plantarum in 1753. Poa is Greek for fodder and pratensis is derived from pratum, the Latin for meadow. The name Kentucky bluegrass derives from its flower heads, which are blue when the plant is allowed to grow to its natural height of 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet).[4]

Poa pratensis is the type species of the grass family Poaceae.

There are two ill-defined subspecies:

  • Poa pratensis subsp. pratensis – temperate regions
  • Poa pratensis subsp. colpodea – Arctic



Poa pratensis is a herbaceous perennial plant 30–70 centimetres (12–28 in) tall. The leaves have boat-shaped tips, narrowly linear, up to 20 centimetres (8 in) long and 3–5 millimetres (0.12–0.20 in) broad, smooth or slightly roughened, with a rounded to truncate ligule 1–2 millimetres (0.039–0.079 in) long. The conical panicle is 5–20 centimetres (2–8 in) long, with 3 to 5 branches in the basal whorls; the oval spikelets are 3–6 millimetres (0.12–0.24 in) long with 2 to 5 florets, and are purplish-green or grey. They are in flower from May to July, compared to annual meadowgrass (Poa annua) which is in flower for eight months of the year. Poa pratensis has a fairly prominent mid-vein (center of the blade).

The ligule is extremely short and square-ended, making a contrast with annual meadowgrass (Poa annua) and rough meadowgrass (Poa trivialis) in which it is silvery and pointed. The Kentucky bluegrass is a dark green/blue compared to the apple-green color of Poa annua and Poa trivialis.

The rootstock is creeping, with runners (rhizomes). The broad, blunt leaves tend to spread at the base, forming close mats.


Myrmus miriformis in Přerov, Czech Republic

Poa pratensis is among the food plants of the caterpillars of the meadow brown (Maniola jurtina), gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus), and pepper-and-salt skipper butterflies; the common sun beetle (Amara aenea) (adults feed on the developing seeds), Eupelix cuspidata of the leafhopper family, and Myrmus miriformis, a grassbug (feeds on young blades and developing seeds).[5]

Poa pratensis is host to a number of fungi, including Claviceps purpurea, which causes ergotism when consumed, Drechslera poae, Epichloë typhina, Phaeoseptoria poae, Puccinia brachypodii var. poae-nemoralis, Stagonospora montagnei, Stagonospora nodorum and Wojnowicia hirta.[6]

Cultivation and production


The Central Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Company Building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Since the 1950s and early 1960s, 90% of Kentucky bluegrass seed in the United States has been produced on specialist farms in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

During the 1990s[citation needed] botanists began experimenting with hybrids of Poa pratensis and Texas bluegrass (P. arachnifera), with the goal of creating a drought and heat-resistant lawn grass. In warm climates, such hybrids may remain green year-round.[7]

Bella Bluegrass is a brand-named dwarf variant of Poa pratentis developed by the University of Nebraska. It has relatively deep roots and propagates relatively rapidly horizontally from its root system but grows to only 2–5 inches (5–13 cm) in above-ground height, basically eliminating the need for mowing lawns that use it. It cannot be reproduced by seed and thus depends on sod plugs or sprigging for its production.[8]

NFL playing surfaces[9]


MLB playing surfaces[10]



  1. ^ Martin Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service. "Kentucky Bluegrass". Aggie Horticulture.
  2. ^ Ksenija Vujnovic; Ross W. Wein (September 1997). "An Inventory of Remnant Prairie Grasslands Within the Central Parkland Natural Sub-Region of Alberta" (PDF): 5. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "There Are More Than a Dozen Types of Grass — Here's How to Know Which One You Have". Popular Mechanics. 2022-03-15. Retrieved 2023-08-31.
  4. ^ Ryen, Dag (June 3, 1993). "What Makes Kentucky's Bluegrass Blue". The New York Times. p. 22. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  5. ^ Natural England description on website Archived 2009-02-23 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Helgi Hallgrímsson & Guðríður Gyða Eyjólfsdóttir (2004). Íslenskt sveppatal I - smásveppir [Checklist of Icelandic Fungi I - Microfungi. Fjölrit Náttúrufræðistofnunar. Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands [Icelandic Institute of Natural History]. ISSN 1027-832X
  7. ^ "Texas Bluegrass Hybrids – Bluegrass Research – Research – Bremer – Turf Information". Kansas State University Research and Extension. 2004-11-04. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  8. ^ Grant, Bonnie L. (15 February 2023). "What Is Bella Grass: Information On No Mow Bella Turf Grass". Gardening Know-How. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  9. ^ Abdalazem, Reem; Roche, Calum (September 14, 2023) [2023-09-09]. "What NFL stadiums have real grass and which ones have artificial turf? The full list". en.as.com. as. Archived from the original on October 11, 2023. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  10. ^ Butler, Sara (June 17, 2022). "All about the turf grass at your favorite MLB ballpark". lawnlove.com. Lawn Love. Archived from the original on March 11, 2023. Retrieved March 10, 2023.

Further reading